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Vegan Guide to San Francisco

San Francisco is my favorite city in the world, and living here has helped me become fully vegan (Eva too, as of last year!).

I thought I’d share a (non-comprehensive) list of places to try for fellow vegans visiting the city. It’s the result of my exploration of many places, good and great, which has been admittedly a lot of fun.

You won’t get to all of these, so I’ve marked my favorites. (Update: Here’s a map of these spots, created by reader Ivana.)

All-Vegan Spots

Restaurants with only vegan food:

  1. Millenium: An absolute favorite, and a must-try for any vegan new to San Francisco. It’s gourmet vegan food, imaginative combinations of flavors and textures. A bit dressier than most of the places on this list, it’s a date-night type joint. In addition to an amazing food menu, they have excellent wines and cocktails. [fave]
  2. Gracias Madre: My other favorite vegan place in the city (along with Millenium), it’s Eva’s top spot. It’s organic vegan Mexican, but different than any other Mexican food you’ve probably tried. Healthy, delicious, unique, everything is sustainably farmed (often on their own farm). Save some room for the dessert — I recommend the Mexican chocolate cake & toasted coconut ice cream (unless it’s the holiday season, in which case they’ll likely have the pumpkin spice cake — get that!). [fave]
  3. Herbivore: With three locations (Valencia, Divisadero, and Berkeley), this is a go-to spot for vegan families (there’s something on the menu for everyone), vegan brunch, and a quick and tasty bite. There are some good healthy options here (salads, green juice), and some tasty but less-healthy options (try the grilled seitan deluxe schwarma), and everything in between.
  4. Cha-Ya Japanese: If you’re craving some vegan Japanese, look no further. It’s inexpensive, cooked in the Zen tradition, and pretty tasty.
  5. Pepple’s Donuts: These guys are actually located in Oakland, but they have a stand at the Ferry Building (which is great for foodies and has a great farmer’s market on Tues, Thurs and Sat). Delicious with lots of great flavors. Also available in a bunch of grocery stores around the city.
  6. Loving Hut: With locations near Powell Station (in the Westfield food court), Chinatown and Sunset neighborhood, this is pretty yummy vegan fast food. You might know them already as they’re all over the world, and if you’ve been to a couple of them, you’ll know that they won’t knock your socks off, but they’re a great choice for a quick vegan lunch as you’re out sightseeing.

All-Vegetarian Spots

These restaurants serve no meat and are great places for vegans:

  1. Greens: Come here for dinner at sunset and enjoy the view of the water. Gourmet vegetarian — one of the first in the country, and owned by San Francisco Zen Center. Lots of vegan options, tell them you’re vegan and they’ll treat you right. So yummy. [fave]
  2. Rainbow Grocery: [fave]
  3. Source: An amazing variety of vegetarian food (almost all is vegan) — it’s like a new-Age diner, with Philly Cheese Moos (moos are their beef replacement, clucks are duck replacement, bow-wows are vegan hot dogs, etc.) and pizza and even vegan Twinkies. Go here ready to oink out.
  4. Thai Idea Vegetarian: Who doesn’t love Thai food? Now you can love it and not be worried about animal products. Pretty much everything on the menu is vegan, and it’s delicious. Nuff said.
  5. Udupi Palace: We went here and ordered way too much food, because it’s all so good. It’s South Indian food, all vegetarian (dairy in some dishes, so ask if you want vegan-only), spicy and yummy. Get the dosas.
  6. Ananda Fuara: This is a funky, cult-like place, but it’s downtown where there aren’t many vegan places, and actually the food is pretty decent. I really like the chocolate cake.
  7. Vegetarian Chinese: There are three places with vegetarian Chinese food if you’re in the mood for some General Tso veg chicken or crispy spring rolls — Golden Era Vegetarian Restaurant, Enjoy Vegetarian Restaurant (with three locations), Lucky Creation Vegetarian Restaurant. My kids love this stuff.
  8. Donna’s Tamales: Vegetarian and vegan tomales, found at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and various grocery stores (see their site for more info).


You’ll find a ton of places in San Francisco that are vegan friendly (almost every place but steakhouses), but here are some that I like:

  • Samovar Tea Lounge: Highly recommended for the artisan tea, you’ll be very happy with the vegan food options. My favorite is the Tempeh Maki Bowl, but also try the TLT sandwich or the lentil curry. Three locations, downtown, Hayes Valley and Mission/Castro. [fave]
  • Plant Cafe: Many veg options, I like the tempeh and the Wasabi Plant Burger. Mmmm. A great option if you’re in the Fisherman’s Wharf/Embarcadero area. [fave]
  • Underdog: Hiking around Golden Gate Park and feel like a veggie dog with organic sauerkraut? Of course! Go to Underdog, a tiny spot where they have beef but also veggie dogs and some other tasty vegan options.
  • Minako Organic Japanese: Small but good Japanese restaurant in the middle of the hip Mission District, with lots of vegan options. Just ask!
  • Papalote Mexican Grill: One of many taquerias in the Mission, this one probably has the most vegan options — soyrizo or tofu or grilled veggie burritos, for example.
  • Little Chihuahua: Get the fried plantain & black bean burrito. With three locations.
  • Paxti’s: Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, with some good vegan options. With a bunch of locations in the Bay Area.
  • Berretta: Go here if you like artisan cocktails — some of the best in the city. And if you’re hungry, there’s Neapolitan pizza with vegan cheese.
  • Mission Pie: Wonderful pies, down-to-earth cafe in the middle of the Mission. One vegan pie option every day.
  • Ike’s Place: Insanely popular sandwich spot, with some great vegetarian and vegan options (and omnivore). Takeout only, order ahead for pickup so you can skip some of the crazy lines.
  • Roam Artisan Burger: Super high-quality burger spot, including great house-made veggie burgers. Also get the sweet potato fries, milkshakes, and beer.

East Bay Vegan Spots

Some great places in Berkeley and Oakland (not a complete list):

  1. Cinnaholic: Insane vegan cinnamon rolls with great toppings! Must-try if you have a sweet tooth and are near Berkeley. My kids adore this place. [fave]
  2. Encuentro Cafe & Wine Bar: Great vegetarian/vegan food, and wine — need I say more? Great for a date night near the Jack London Square area of Oakland. [fave]
  3. Cafe Gratitude: I was sad when the SF location of Gratitude closed, but you can still hit them up in Berkeley. Hippy feel, half raw and half cooked vegan menu. Try the Gratitude Bowl, among others. [fave]
  4. Flacos: Tiny little vegan taco shop in Berkeley, my mouth waters thinking about their food.
  5. Timeless Coffee: Hip coffee shop in Oakland, all their coffee & great pastries are vegan!

A Vegan Sightseeing Tour of SF

OK, let’s put my faves together with my favorite spots in San Francisco into a 2-day highlights tour. Warning: It’s not necessarily the healthiest of tours, but you’ll burn it off exploring the city! Map out this stuff before you come to SF.

Day 1

  • Breakfast: Go to the East Bay and have vegan cinnamon rolls at Cinnaholic in Berkeley.
  • Twin Peaks: Then drive into SF up to Twin Peaks. Enjoy the amazing view. Don’t just go to the lookout, but actually go on top of at least one of the peaks (2 of the highest peaks in SF).
  • Walk the Mission & Castro: Drive down & park somewhere near 18th Street & Valencia, and start walking around. Valencia Street and Mission Street are great places to soak in the feel of the best neighborhood in SF. The colorful Castro neighborhood is nearby, which you can check out after lunch.
  • Lunch: Gracias Madre at 18th & Mission. Take your time, enjoy the menu. Get dessert to go for your next stop.
  • Hang out in Dolores Park: Walk down 18th Street to Dolores Park (18th & Dolores). If it’s a sunny day, enjoy some relaxation time in Dolores Park, one of the coolest parks in the city. On a sunny afternoon, the scene here is pretty interesting. The view from the corner near 20th & Church is awesome (right near my old house).
  • Dinner: Millenium, my favorite vegan spot in the city, not in the nicest of neighborhoods but you’ll get a feel for the Tenderloin here. Make sure to make reservations, preferably a week in advance (not always necessary but it’s better to be safe). Bring an empty stomach. Be sure to order dessert.
  • Nighttime strolling: If you still have energy, walk around the Embarcadero and enjoy the lights on the Bay Bridge.

Day 2

  • Breakfast: Go to the Ferry Building at Embarcadero, get a couple tasty donuts from Pepple’s, and enjoy with soy Gibraltar at Blue Bottle (it’s off the menu). Also explore the other interesting foodie places in the Ferry Building, and if you plan well, you can catch the farmer’s market outside (Tues, Thurs, and Sat).
  • Fun with science: Check out the Exploratorium for an hour.
  • Hike & views: If you’re adventurous, hike to the top of Telegraph Hill via the Greenwich Street stairs or the Filbert Street stairs (or go up one and down the other!). Otherwise, drive up and enjoy the view.
  • Lunch: Samovar Tea Lounge. Have the Nishi Sencha and the Tumeric Spice teas, and the Tempeh Maki Bowl. Slow down, be present, enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
  • Golden Gate Park: Drive to somewhere near 9th & Irving, and walk into the lovely Golden Gate Park. Check out the Japanese Tea Garden (feel the serenity), and then stroll around Stow Lake. If you have kids, the California Academy of Sciences is a must.
  • Dinner: Greens Restaurant on the waterfront. Make reservations ahead of time. Alternatives: the Plant Cafe or Source.

If You Have More Time

Other good ideas: Encuentro in Oakland, Rainbow Grocery if you want to buy some food to cook yourself, the Golden Gate Bridge and trails along the coast in Presidio, Land’s End trails, a house-made veggie burger and sweet potato fries at Roam Artisan Burger, Flacos or Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley.

Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
Neither Averting Nor Craving in Each Moment How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life Tips for Traveling with Kids My Grand Travel Experiment The Parent I Aspire to Be The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief 7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges The 30-Day Learning Challenge The Place Where You Are Feeling Determined to Change Practicing Non-Judgment Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire Don’t Waste Your Opportunity How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method When Others Frustrate You Your Internet Habits Create Your Reality The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play Leave Yourself Wanting More Fail Faster at Habits The Anti-Bucket List Getting Started with the Discipline Habit The Case for Caring About Your Work Questions of Priority The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More Pare Down with the Declutter Habit You’re Not Doing Life Wrong Getting Lost in Just Doing An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit The Source of Contentment Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It” The Things That Get in the Way of Doing The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating Unconditional Acceptance of Yourself My Typical Day: How I Get People to Think I’m Productive The Contentment Habit The Delightfully Short Guide to Reading More Books In Praise of Limits The Art of Being My Dad 5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015 Essential Zen Habits of 2014 Karate Chop Practicing Slowness & Being Present Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make My 2014 Successes and Failures Finding the Motivation to Change Your Entire Life When You’re Lonely The Brain’s Fast Mode 5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide The Four Hidden Habit Skills The Power of Delay Overwhelmed & Rushed? Do a Stress Assess Writer as Coder: The Iterative Way to Write a Book Please Support the Zen Habits Book Are You a Lift or Drag Force? When Resistance Smacks You in the Face When Your Plate is Too Full The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done A Quick Guide to Gaining Confidence When You Socialize The Empty Container The Realization A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits The Smart Way to Stick to Habits My Most Effective Learning Tools What I Do When I Fail How to Put Your Writing in Public The Productive Sprint The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits Seized by the Thunderhold of Fear What to Eat for Fat Loss The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification How to Get Motivated After a Vacation 7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction How to Breathe 7 Discipline-Mastering Practices 7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes How to Believe in Yourself Don’t Waste a Moment How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach How to Be Great Making Yourself Work Inhabit the Moment How to Master the Art of Living The Delusional Fantasies We Live With Each Day Living the Simple Life How to Be Prepared for Anything Turn Toward the Problem The End of the Day Philosophy The Painful Beauty of Impermanence How to Change Other People Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent Looking for Love How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed Why We Have Regret The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism The Frustratingly Slow Pace of Making Changes My Struggles with Eating Boring Food The No Procrastination Challenge Creating a Lovely Morning A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women Turn Inspiration Into Action Coming Back From a Setback The Gift A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids How to Make a Marriage Work Love Notes Flavorless: My Month of Food Boringness The Letting Go Ebook, Free The Miracle of the Self-Compassion Habit How I Tackle a Big Writing Project The Habit Action List The Reality of This Moment Confidence in Your Business 10 Ways to Do What You Don’t Want to Do On Making It Through Tough Journeys The Hard Stuff Often Matters Most What to Think About During Exercise You’ll Be OK The Most Important Two Minutes of Your Life A Call for Compassion for the Defenseless The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome You’re Not Worse Than Other People Being Mindful of Your Stress What if You Didn’t Have to Worry About Yourself? The Universe of a Single Task Simplifying Is Painful Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant How I Cleaned House & Simplified My Work Life The Busy Person’s Guide to Reducing Stress My Month Without a Smartphone What I’ve Learned as a Writer What the Exercise Habit Did For Me Fear is the Root of Your Problems This Moment 36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits The 3 Do-What-You-Love Conundrums How I Conduct My Business Constant Task Switching The Habits of Five Amazing Founders The Incredible Importance of Sleep for Habits & Motivation What Really Motivates Us to Stick to a Project? I Tried to Quit & It’s Too Hard! Unwired: A Month With Limited Internet, & Now No Cell Phone Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem Letting Go of Judging People Don’t Scratch the Itch Become Happy in the Face of Physical Misery How Repetition Can Kickstart a Habit Zen Productivity When You’re Feeling Self-Doubt & a Lack of Motivation The Child That Holds Us Back Stateless Mindset My Month of (Almost) No Internet 12 Changes for 2014 Essential Zen Habits of 2013 The Fear of Being Alone The Calm Approach Things Every Man Should Own Family Gatherings: The Ultimate Mindfulness Training Ground Letter to an 18-year-old on the Career Path Less Traveled A Method to Find Balance 16 Surprising Lessons from My First 50-Mile Ultramarathon The Simple Fitness Habit Holiday Challenge Struggles with My Morning Internet Fast Surrender, Mindfulness & Entrepreneurship How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating, & Love Letting Go Finding Focus When You Run Out of Ideas The Necessary Art of Subtraction Jealousy & Suffering How Creativity Works, & How to Do It Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences Make It Your Job Developing Selfless Compassion Lyrical Learning, & Why We Learn Habits Wrong A Month Without Sugar Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations) 12 Indispensable Mindful Living Tools Burn Down the Farm My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet The Exquisite Habits of the Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee 3 Little Tricks to Deal With People Who Offend You My Healthiest Travel Routine Yet Startup Founder Megan Casey’s Habits of Priorities My Pursuit of the Art of Living A Month Without TV or Video The Way of No Debt Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One The Way to Be Ramit Sethi’s Entrepreneurial Habits The Time to Shut Down The Pain & Beauty of Life Changes 8 Creativity Lessons from a Pixar Animator Zen Mountain: Leave It All Behind Overcoming the Social Costs of Being Different Finding Quiet and Mindfulness Through Food My Failed Month of ‘No Sitting’ The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life Liking Healthy Foods is a Choice Unschoolery: My New Blog on Unschooling My Advice for Starting a Business Creating Your Habit Environment Travel Lessons with My Family Easier Decision-Making: Conduct Experiments Simplify: Let Go of Your Crutches The Fear of Being Found a Fraud The Flexible Mind Declutter Your Life A Month Without Coffee The Healthful Vegan Diet Living the Quiet Life The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life The Habits of Happiness How to Keep Habits Going During Travel A Year of Living Without The Key Habits of Organization I Failed Vegan Guide to San Francisco The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others A Secret to Dad Greatness Habits: A Simple Change in Mindset Changes Everything The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now 6 Steps To Being More Creative How I Finally Faced My Weight & Debt Problems Working with the Obstacles in Your Path 9 Rules for a Simpler Day The Little Book of Contentment The Obstacle is the Path 5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger Smile in Each Moment A Guide to Practical Compassion 6 Steps To Healing Yourself The 7-Day Vegan Challenge Why You Should Write Daily Achieving Without Goals Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else) Habit Mastery: Creating the New Normal Defeat Distraction: Refocusing with Purpose Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger A Guide to Practical Contentment The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously How to Eat Real Food Without Spending Hours in the Kitchen Quitting Your Habits The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers How To Make It Impossible To Fail The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart Zen Mind in the Middle of Chaos & Stress Create a Sacred Space in Your Heart Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit Creating the Genuine Connections We Long For Tremors of Psychitude: One Little Trick to Find Purpose and Motivation Create the Habits of Being Lean, in 7 Years Walled-in: Life Without Facebook The 7 Habits of Calmness The Four Habits that Form Habits Advice to My Kids My 10 Essential Email Habits The Daily Checklist Sticking to a Habit: The Definitive Guide The Meditation Diet: How I Lost 60+ lbs. by Savoring The Power of Habit Investments Discomfort Zone: How to Master the Universe The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early Do Less: A Short Guide How to Savor Life What We Lack in a Hyperconnected World Simplify the Internet 12 Rules to Live By The New Rules of Fitness for 2013 52 Changes for 2013 The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program Essential Zen Habits of 2012 The Other Person is Never the Problem The Do Plan, or Why We Know But Don’t Do 28 Brilliant Tips for Living Life The Clutter-free Holiday Guide The Little Trick to Make Any Moment Better Tim Ferriss vs. Leo Babauta Showdown: On Whether Goals Suck The Work You Love is Waiting For You The 7-Step Method to Find Focus for Writing The Buy-Nothing Holiday Survival Guide Challenge: Buy Nothing Until 2013 How to Learn Anything Shaken By Life’s Beauty, Shaken Untrack: Letting Go of the Stress of Measuring 15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit How to Make Health Insurance a Bad Bet Why the Fitness Habit is More Important Than the Plan The Willingness to Think Differently Create a Superhealth Community A Vegan Tour of NYC